Students join forces to support a learning center in India

Students Andrew Hansen, Savannah Sparkman, Anisha Mudaliar and Meili Eubank sell the 'Ravi Revs and Reads' book. Photos courtesy Alyx Sariol
Students Andrew Hansen, Savannah Sparkman, Anisha Mudaliar and Meili Eubank sell the 'Ravi Revs and Reads' book. Photos courtesy Alyx Sariol
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By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

Students from Cathedral Catholic, Pacific Ridge School and Kearny High School paired up over the last few months to write a children's book. Proceeds of the sales from the $20 book will help set up a Children's Resource Center in India.

Called "Ravi Revs and Reads," the book tells the real-life story of Ravi Aluganti, an Indian man who since 2001 has made it his mission to deliver books to underprivileged schools in India. Aluganti delivers the books in a blue bus he calls Ravi's Mobile Library. The students helped tell Ravi's story in the children's book by bringing the big blue bus to life as a happy character getting children to read.

"Being involved in this project helps me feel like I'm useful in some way," said Yvonne Ricardo, a Kearny junior. "It empowers you, that even as a kid you can help people around the world."

The schools working together on the project helped create a sense of unity, said Chiara Dorigo, a senior at Pacific Ridge.

"We would love to find opportunities for more schools to work together," said Pacific Ridge service learning director Steve Le. "The more collaboration between public and private schools, the better."

The idea for the book formed in the schools service-learning clubs—at Cathedral's Key Club, Kearny's Omprakash Club and Pacific Ridge's Otesha Club.

In their clubs, the students learned about Ravi's Mobile Library, how it started small but was able to grow after being supported by a United States nonprofit

Omprakash

, which also helped coordinate the students' project.

With Omprakash's help, Aluganti was able to deliver 25,000 volumes of books in 2008.

Looking beyond just a mobile library, Aluganti began planning for the Children's Resource Centre. The center will cost about $18,000 to build and the trio of San Diego schools wanted to do their part to help.

Working together, the students decided to write and illustrate their own children's book to help make money for the center.

"It was a pretty big process," said Kearny junior Magan Hall, noting that the schools started collaborating back in January.

To tell Aluganti's story, the teenagers interviewed Indian students who had benefited from Ravi's Mobile Library. In the book there is also a Ravi character.

The end of the book features biographies and photos of 10 of the Indian students so people can learn about whom they are helping by purchasing the book, Yvonne said.

Pacific Ridge junior Katie Glockner said her favorite part of interviewing the students was learning about their dreams and future plans.

"Sometimes high school clubs can be shortsighted," Magan said. "We've been able to get past that and really make a difference. It does make you feel whole."

"It showed any small thing you do can really make a big difference," said Kearny junior Khanh Nguyen.

The students sold 28 books at the E Street Cafe in Encinitas on Sept. 18. In addition to pre-sales, they have raised about $1,000 toward their goal of $6,000. Once they reach $6,000, a private donor has agreed to match that amount for a total contribution of $12,000 toward the resource center.

"Although our goal is $6,000, if we sell all 500 copies of the book we printed we will exceed that amount," Chiara said.

"Global engagement and ethical responsibility is part of what Pacific Ridge is about and I feel like we're living up to that mission statement and reaching out," Katie said. "It seemed like a big dream at the time but it's shown us no dream is too big, you can always work for it."

To purchase a book or learn about coordinating an Omprakash project in your school, e-mail Steve Le at

Steve@omprakash.org

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